Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wok Wednesdays: Kung Pao Chicken

This summer has been wonderful, but busier than I ever expected. When I joined Wok Wednesdays I felt sure there would be plenty of time to stir-fry the dishes and blog about them. Instead, I've been busy getting my older daughter ready for her first year of college, I received a surprise job offer and now we are all enthralled by the Olympics.  Whew. Thus I am late posting, but oh so glad I got around to making this dish.

Kung Pao chicken is one of my favorite dishes. Now I can make it. Yay.  We have delicate palates so we do not like a lot of spice. I used two dried chilis instead of the four to eight called for in the recipe. For us, that was just the right amount of heat.

I also did not use all Sichuan peppercorns. I bought a jar of assorted peppercorns thinking I could just open the jar and pick out the pink ones. That didn't work, so I used a mixture. Still, this dish was a big success with the family.

We have a "no posting" rule in our blogging group so you won't find the recipe here, but you can read about others' experiences cooking Kung Pao Chicken here.  To find the recipe, you can buy the book "Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge" here

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TWD & BWJ: Semolina Bread

I'm a day late with this week's recipe, Semolina Bread. I didn't anticipate how difficult it would be to find semolina flour and I left it to the last minute. Three of the four major grocery chains did not have it, but there is a new Italian market in town and this was the perfect excuse to check it out.  I also convinced my husband to come with me and enjoy an espresso.

This is a really, really easy recipe, but very time consuming; there are three (count 'em) rises, each two hours.  I benefited from the experience of other TWD/BWJ bloggers. There were comments about the saltiness of the bread, so I cut the amount of salt in half. Some bakers also said that the bread didn't rise very high, despite the long rising time. So, I didn't worry too much when my loaf looked like a fat pancake. Fortunately, the bread rose beautifully in the oven even though one would never call it a thick loaf. 

This recipe is a keeper. Now, that I have the semolina flour, the other ingredients -- flour, olive oil, yeast, salt -- are easy to find. The finished bread is chewy and delicious.  Anna and Renee are hosting this week's recipe. You will be able to find this wonderful recipe on their blogs.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wok Wednesdays: Yin Yang Beans

The temperatures have been in the high 90's, but feel like 110 and the humidity is near 90%. We're all too listless to do much and we're certainly not going to turn on the oven in this weather. It's great weather to stir-fry and grill.

Our Wok Wednesdays challenge this time: Yin Yang Beans.  This tasty dish features green beans, scallions and pork with the piquant flavors of fresh ginger, pickled ginger and garlic.  This is a perfect summer dish as fresh beans are plentiful.  I ususally like to follow the recipe as close as possible, but since we don't eat pork (we have a Kosher kitchen), I decided to make a vegetarian version.
My first thought was to go with some tofu approximation of meat.  I decided that as much as I like Morningstar Farms products, I wasn't sure how they would work in a stir-fry.  I thought black beans might work as a contrast to the green beans.   And then it occured to me; slivered almonds would work great. They're crunchy and they would make the Yin Yang Beans a stir-fry variation of green beans almondine. Perfect.

The almonds add a nice crunch and soak up the flavors of the sauce and aromatics. I also used red onions instead of scallions. This was not so much a culinary choice as a moment of forgetfulness at the grocery store.  Overall, the beans were a success. The only change I would make is that I would use one ounce of almonds. I had used two ounces of almonds to replace the pork and that was too much.  You can read other Wok Wednesday blogs here.  And to get this wonderful recipe, get the book, Stir- Frying to the Sky's Edge by Grace Young.